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Pilot study of an extended exercise intervention on senescent T cells and inflammatory markers in older adults ( Ref: WD_2022_17_WSCH)

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  Prof Michael Harrison, Dr E McNeela, Prof John Cooke  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Post summary

As we age, changes occur in the profile of the immune system T cells, resulting in less “young” T cells and more “older”, potential dysfunctional and inflammatory T cells. These changes are termed immunosenescence and are linked to multiple conditions of old age including reduced immune function, vascular disease and frailty.  The role of regular exercise and fitness in altering the T cell subets of ageing individuals is not well understood and recent high-quality reviews have identified gaps in the evidence base. In particular, there are very few exercise intervention studies with a specific focus on senescent cells. It is possible that a particularly long intervention might be needed to change T cells profiles, however. A 12-month pilot study is therefore proposed to examine changes in T cell profiles and inflammatory markers in older adults > 65 years with elevated levels of “older” T cells at baseline. Pilot studies have particular value prior to a major set of trials when researching new fields. The research design will include higher intensity work for some participants and will recruit older women and men. A smaller study comparing continuous exercise with bursts of higher intensity exercise will also be undertaken in this group.

 Applications are invited for a PhD student to undertake this interdisciplinary programme of study that will combine exercise science and immune cell biology.

Person specification



·      Honours Degree (minimum 2:1) or equivalent from a programme that emphasises exercise science, biology, medicine or biomedical science  OR equivalent skillset based on a combination of undergraduate and postgraduate study


·      MSc from a programme that emphasises exercise science, biology or biomedical science

·      Exercise leadership qualification (e.g. REPS Ireland approved qualification).

Knowledge & Experience


·       Research methods knowledge for the human sciences

·       Excellent academic writing skills

·       Data analysis skills

Desirable (some of the following)

·       Exercise physiology testing

·       Exercise leadership with aged individuals

·       Phlebotomy

·       Cell biology expertise (e.g. cell culture) and assays

·       Flow cytometry

·       Immunology

·       Molecular biology

·       Statistical analysis

·       Experience recruiting for and administering an interventional trial with human participants

Skills & Competencies


·       Applicants whose first language is not English must submit evidence of competency in English, please see WIT’s English Language Requirements for details.


·       Excellent organisational, interpersonal and motivational skills

·       Participant empathy

·       Ability to work on own initiative and problem solve

Funding Notes

Research Group Biomedical Research Cluster / PMBRC
Department / School Department of Sport and Exercise Science, School of Health Sciences
Duration : 48 Months
Status: Full-time
Funding information:WIT PhD Scholarship 2022 (WSCH)
Value of the scholarship per year for 4 years Stipend: €15,000 Fees: €4,500 : Research costs- €2000
Teaching requirement:168 hours of academic development activities over the 4-year term of the PhD programme in line with scholarship requirements.
Closing date and time This Competition will close on the 23rd May 2022 at 4pm Irish time.
Interview date From 06/06/2022
PhD commencement date September 2022


Further information
For any informal queries, please contact Prof Michael Harrison on email mharrison@wit.ie
For queries relating to the application and admission process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Office via email rpgadmissions@wit.ie or telephone +353 (0)51 302883.
Website: www.wit.ie
Application procedure
Download the Research Postgraduate Application Form and return completed applications to rpgadmissions@wit.ie, quoting WD_2022_17_WSCH in the email subject line. Please note that paper submissions will not be accepted
Please note that paper submissions will not be accepted.
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